By Panama Relief Team (Originally in Spanish)
During the evening of April 16, 2016, a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake occurred in the coastal provinces of Ecuador, taking the lives of 661 individuals. More than 28,000 citizens were left without homes, over 240,704 people were affected, and there was extensive damage to many buildings and structures. President Rafael Correa of Ecuador declared a state of emergency, and directed the military and police forces to provide aid.
In response to Supreme Master Ching Hai’s deep concern about the quake-affected people in Ecuador and Her instructions to render aid, our Association members from Chile, Costa Rica and Panama formed a relief team to offer assistance, and used US$17,645.59 provided by Master to help those most affected.
On April 22, our relief team arrived in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. We obtained a document from the Integrated Security System ECU-911 listing the items most needed in the affected areas. As there was a shortage of supplies at the local markets, the manager of Supermercado (Supermarket) Santa Maria, Mr. Roder Vivanco, placed orders the next day for the food and personal hygiene items needed for the preparation of 1,000 relief kits. He also agreed to provide a space for us to pack, as well as assistance from his staff.
During the following two days, through the Military Commissioner of the Panamanian Embassy in Ecuador, Mr. Mauricio Nelson and his contacts, we managed to secure a military truck that had government clearance for transportation. We purchased 2,000 gallons of water based on the advice of a local person in the affected province of Esmeraldas.
On April 26, as soon as all the supplies arrived, our team spent eight hours preparing 1,000 relief kits with the enthusiastic assistance from the staff of Supermercado Santa Maria. The kind staff included cashiers, supervisors, security guards and young men who helped with heavy lifting. The next morning, after loading all the kits onto the military truck and another rental truck that was obtained at the last minute with the aid of a soldier, we traveled to the coastal province of Esmeraldas in northwest Ecuador, which was a six-hour drive away.
On April 28, we delivered the prepared supplies and water to a total of 1,032 affected families in 21 different communities and makeshift shelters in Esmeraldas, accompanied by a military group led by Lieutenant Emilio Rosero and an official from the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion. Most families were from the worst-hit areas of Muisne, which was close to the epicenter of the earthquake. For a few communities, we gave the kits to the leaders to transport across the river by canoe to those in need.
The families were tremendously grateful for the aid received and for the love and compassion of Supreme Master Ching Hai. A man in one of the shelters commented that during the first few days after the earthquake, they were very scared because many people had passed away, and those in the shelters were not receiving the supplies they needed to survive. But now, they felt calmer and more hopeful seeing that people from other countries cared about them and were willing to help.
Other families told us they were surprised that Master, whom they had never met in person, would take care of them in such a way. One person told a member of our team, “Tell Master Ching Hai that I love her, too”.
Many Ecuadorians collaborated for the delivery of this aid, and a number of them mentioned that they were very grateful to Master for sending the loving gifts to the people suffering in their country. One taxi driver in Quito thanked our Association for the solidarity shown to his country, and mentioned that even our colorful vests would be able to bring joy to the suffering people.
We thank the many people who helped make our relief mission possible, and we pray for the people of Ecuador to recover soon from such a tragic event. Our deepest gratitude to Supreme Master Ching Hai for Her love and compassion for those most in need.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai for Earthquake Relief Work In Ecuador
|Food and supplies (rice, sugar, oatmeal, canned lentils or beans, peanuts, raisins, noodles, tomato paste, soap, toilet paper, toothpaste, feminine hygiene items) and transportation expenses for the affected people||15,870.68||A|
|Travel and lodging expenses of the relief team||1,774.91||B|
Throughout the relief operation, the team members paid approximately US$5,282.05 for their own transportation and food.